Gaza Truck 311.
(photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)
The Defense Ministry’s coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT) has given initial approval to international organizations for 31 construction projects in the Gaza Strip, constituting a 300 percent increase in the number of projects approved by Israel in the past month.
The 31 projects were submitted to COGAT since the cabinet decided in June to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
COGAT had already approved nine projects before the government’s
decision, including the renovation of a sewage treatment plant in
northern Gaza, the construction of 151 housing units in Khan Yunis in
the south, and the repair of a flour mill that was damaged during
Operation Cast Lead a year and a half ago.
“This will continue and we have an intention to permit what is allowed
in according to the government’s decision,” a senior COGAT official
Since the cabinet decision, COGAT Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot has met with
representatives of most of the major international organizations that
work in the Gaza Strip and has held five briefings on the new government
policy for Quartet envoy Tony Blair and US special envoy George
Under the new policy, COGAT will only allow construction materials into
the Gaza Strip if they are being inserted for a specific project that is
under the supervision of a major international agency like UNRWA, the
World Bank or USAID, to try to prevent the materials being used by Hamas
and other armed groups for military projects.
The approved projects include new schools, classrooms, medical clinics,
kindergartens, water infrastructure and community centers.
Earlier this month, Dangot met with Palestinian Authority officials and
agreed to establish a joint Israeli-Palestinian team to coordinate work
on the renovation of the Kerem Shalom crossing and future international
construction projects in the Gaza Strip.
The work at Kerem Shalom, which began last week, will include the
construction of infrastructure that could be used to facilitate the
increase in trucks to 250 a day and one day by the PA, if it were to
receive control of the crossing from Israel.